What You Can Do

All of us have a responsibility to learn about and do what we can to ensure human rights are respected in product value chains, even if the violation seems out of our reach. Since slavery-like practices are used in nine countries that produce cotton, we must all ask more questions about where the cotton originates and under what conditions it was harvested. We must also support systems that aim to avoid and eradicate forced labor in cotton production, and that incentivize responsible practices.  

 

Companies

  • Sign the RSN Cotton Pledge against forced labor of children and adults in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. Signing the Pledge is an important public denunciation of forced labor. A pledge regarding cotton from Turkmenistan is coming soon.

  • Create a policy that prohibits suppliers from sourcing Uzbek or Turkmen cotton until their governments cease using forced labor to harvest cotton.

  • Establish procedures that ensure suppliers are abiding by the company policy to not source Uzbek or Turkmen cotton.

  • Write it into supplier contracts that they cannot use Uzbek or Turkmen cotton.

  • Endorse the YESS Statement of Support and join the YESS Working Group to assist in developing the YESS program and pilot it.

     

    Investors

    • In your conversations with a company that has cotton products, ask them if it has a policy against cotton harvested with forced labor, namely in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

    • If the company you are invested in doesn’t have any prominent information about forced labor in its value chain, let it know you would like to see it take a leadership role by:

      • Signing the RSN Cotton Pledge if it hasn’t already.

      • Create a policy that prohibits suppliers from sourcing Uzbek or Turkmen cotton and write it into supplier contracts that they cannot use Uzbek or Turkmen cotton.

      • Endorse the YESS Statement of Support and join the YESS Working Group to assist in developing the YESS program and pilot it.

    • Spread the word to your networks about forced labor in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to help raise public awareness of the plight of their people.

    • Include this forced labor issue in company dialogues that address human rights risk assessments, the SDGs, UN Guiding Principles, and due diligence.

     

    Consumers

    • Before you purchase clothes, check RSN’s Cotton Pledge signatory list, YESS endorsement list, and the brands’ websites to see if they have developed policies on Uzbek and Turkmen cotton.

    • If your favorite brands don’t have any information about forced labor in the cotton industry, send them a tweet or facebook post letting them know it is an issue you care about and you would like to see it take a leadership role.

    • Spread the word to friends and family about forced labor in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to help raise public awareness of the plight of their people.

    • Purchase garments that have accountability built into them, such as those made with preferred cottons: Organic, Fairtrade, Better Cotton, Cleaner Cotton, and others.

     

    Partners & Initiatives

    There are a number of initiatives RSN is a member of or contributes to to further our work. Companies and other stakeholders can participate in several of them, which are designed to add more transparency and/or accountability to supply chains in general, or specifically apparel or cotton.

     
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